There was something enchanted about this time of year, especially in the forest. Sure, it was nippy out and sunshine was scarce, but she found a beacon of berries which had their own shine. She watched ever-reaching branches stretch for the grey skies. Nestled in their crevices where clusters of acorns, which the squirrels couldn't resist playing with. Little paws stretched for the draping berries. Ivy swirled around heavy trunks, as though tendrils were clambering to get a good view of the sun, right before it made an early departure again.
After strolling through the wilderness for some time, she relished in how at peace she felt in any natural setting; she could happily be around blousy blooms or a plethora of sturdy trees. The crunching of thin twigs underfoot came to a halt when she was faced with a small wooden house. It was more like a cubed cabin which stood in the clearing and it had no windows. It also didn't have a roof so the embers of daylight poured in. The wooden door featured a pine cone knob, where the scales began to move in an undulating formation.
Ah yes, she was familiar with this motion as she'd experienced nature inviting her closer before. Even so, she approached tentatively. After a deep breath, she twisted the handle. The door opened and before her were creamy white walls which juxtaposed the earthiness of outside. It felt like she'd stepped into a tiny gallery with no art on the walls, but a small table in the centre. A single bowl sat on the surface - was it lunch time? There was no other indication it might've been, except her rumbling stomach.
As she was about to leave the sparse space, she heard the strong swoosh of branches above her. Immediately, she shielded her head with her arms when the sound began to rain down. The weather had been clear; it was overcast but no rain. So why could she hear the gentle pitter-patter of precipitation? She opened her eyes, safe in seeing she could let her arms fall. The table now had a collection of twigs dancing in the centre. She watched in awe as ivy came flying through the open roof and ribboning itself around the wooden lengths
Holly leaves collided with the table and found their final place in snuggling with the ivy. The rain-resembling sound was each tiny component hitting the table and bouncing into the arrangement. The sound became that bit heavier when a collection of red berries sling-shot off the walls like multiple bouncing balls. They landed in the chest of the arrangement. The brambles and branches took form proudly. She marvelled in how the minutiae formed the entire woodland sculpture and how integral each piece was to the next.
She wanted a berry but she wasn't sure if she should have one. She remembered the last time she ate some questionable moss and the effects were way more than she'd bargained for. She noticed how the longest branch emerging from the structure began to glow at the tip. It was as if it had heard her. She felt compelled to retrieve the length from the mass and got the impression she had a magic wand at hand. A magnetic pull drew her towards the ruby berries. She touched one with the end and marvelled as it changed before her eyes.
It appeared to melt and on close inspection, looked almost like a tiny dollop of ketchup. Raising her eyebrows in surprise, she prised off a crunchy brown leaf and placed it on the table. She marvelled at how the wand turned it into a small, spongy bit of bread. Was she about to stack a bite-sized burger? Yes she was. The yellow holly leaves let out a rich aroma, which transformed into drippy cheese. The acorns switched to have a squidgy touch; they were definitely an equivalent to mushrooms. She prised off little flaps and placed them on top.
She then threw on some berries and magicked them into a tomatoey condiment. The ivy morphed into lettuce-like leaves and she stacked a final 'bread' piece on top. She picked it up and admired it as if it were art. It was the moment of truth. Utterly delicious. She munched to find she'd just got started on the moreish morsels. One was followed by another and the wand effortlessly kept creating. Her long forest walk had taken more out of her than she'd realised. Once she'd had her joyful fill of mini burgers, she sighed with a calm satisfaction.
She placed the spindly wand back on the table and stepped back. All the remaining elements began to reverberate and dart around the room again. No fear was felt this time; everything was returning back to the earth. The branches swirled out of the roof and she laughed as the leaves flew around her body, before shooting into the sky. She watched and gave thanks for being provided with the strength to carry on. Also, was it dessert time? She smiled to herself and opened the door. It was time for the next part of her journey.
Sprawling orchids spanned out before her. She knew she'd inhabited familiar territory before. Ah yes, she reminisced on sherbet petals which had fizzed something delightful. This time around she wanted to sample something new. Luckily enough, textured red petals looked like love hearts ready to be bitten. She snapped the rouge part which broke like a flat candy bar. She put a piece on her tongue... so this is what love felt like. An electric, unconditional warmth. If falling in this feeling felt this good, why didn't we take this risk more often?
Would she ever tire from strolling through enchanted gardens? Never. Twigs began to contort and rotate before her eyes. It was like seeing wooden puzzle pieces continuously rotate and settle into place. Alongside the structure, stalks erupted into a mass of cream petals. They arched over and shimmied, making a tinny ringing sound like a shower of bells. The petals fell to the earth, danced over and wrapped themselves around her ankles. As she walked, the rows of little bells continued to jingle, making her smile with every step she took.
The forest was home to many. The wooden formations morphed into monkeys which had a calm demeanour. She thought about how the animals went about their day, being in the present. She found herself being able to do that here. The sunshine flowers opened up something good; they felt like warm, deep rays permeating through her being. There were times in her life when overthinking took centre stage and she dwelled on how things could've been done differently. Here, the path which the past had built led to peace in this moment.
Begonias speckled with beauty rippled through the earth. She ventured closer to admire their patterns. The constellation-like mottling began to swirl in front of her eyes; galaxies contained in one single leaf. Pinks merged with deep greens and starry white dots jumped off the leaf to meet her. There was so much excitement in what was considered a small entity. She pondered on how much life was coming from it. In relation to the universe, could she be considered this way? A shiny spark within the vast tapestry that the cosmos was?
Mythical creatures roamed carefreely. Something in her told her she could feel at ease, so she didn't fear the dragons which perched fiercely upon the branches. A wall of draping ferns swished to get her attention. Their pretty and delicate fronds began tinkling in the wind. She pressed a tip to find it chime. She pressed another positioned lower and found a deeper sound emerge. She felt herself embrace the music she was making, enthusiastically pinging multiple ends. She saw angular heads turn her way. Was she summoning the dragons?
She found herself surrounded by a flurry of pink petals. She had sampled the red anthurium; would the pink one be as decadent? She snapped off a piece of the petal and chewed. Ah, this is what it feels like to float on a candyfloss cloud, she mused with closed eyes. She could flit into the pouch of the slipper orchid and take a long nap. It's cushioned pod would be so accommodating. As tempting as that sounded, there was still more to be seen. The comfort of sleep would have to wait, especially when a vast window of opportunities opened up...
A petite cluster of grape-leaf begonias sat in front, drinking in the view of the striking trees. After a moment to pause and take it in too, she found herself in more tropical climates. She startled seeing a speckled leaf morph into a frog, ribbit and hop away. That's one thing she'll never get used to: coming across the unexpected in places like this. Around the corner came a bevy of carnivorous plants. They reached out, curly tendrils entwining around her wrists. She unravelled herself swiftly and decided it was best to appreciate them from afar.
Pitcher plants hung languidly, with their inner sap luring in unwitting flies for dinner. Although she'd opted to admire their surrealness from afar, she couldn't help but venture a tad closer to see the mottled patterns which lined their bells. She imagined a wall of them in her house, like a fanciful wallpaper in an exotic room. Her thoughts stirred when one began to shake and sound a gentle rattle; the ones next to it began to mimic. Was she next on the menu? Her instincts were right the first time - it was time to keep on moving.
A collection of glass orbs hung on branches. She read a title on one of the tags - 'mirage moss'. Her curiosity was piqued. She quickly prised a piece of the moss, avoiding the little Venus flytrap heads snapping at her hand. She let the moss dissipate on her tongue. In her haste, she hadn't bothered to read the text semi-covered by tufts of draping tillandsia. 'Do not exceed a mound the size of a large flytrap head'. Ah, maybe that's what the tiny hostile heads where trying to tell her. She'd had a chunk just smaller than a tablespoon. Now what?
Well, she felt fine for the time being. Maybe the effects had been overridden by the anthurium in her system from earlier. Expansive leaves enshrouding a large window began creeping inwards. The vines swished, lifting and carrying her on their massive leaves. She teetered and swirled as they raised her higher. The vines had wrapped themselves around her torso as extra support but she still felt unsturdy. Exhilaration and an overwhelming feeling kicked in; she let out a scream. She opened her eyes to find herself hear the soft trickle of water.
All the mad momentum of being raised higher and higher had stopped. She was no longer in the air but sitting on the ground. She tentatively opened her eyes to find herself in an enchanted place. All the dizzying sensations began to ebb away as she sat and listened to the water fall. A penny drop moment occurred - 'Mirage moss'. Had her mind fabricated the entire experience? She glanced far into the distance, where she could still see the shadowed wall. The leaves looked totally benign, facing the light in the windows innocently.
The effects of her experience had subsided and she was ready to explore this mystical space. Less of the tasting from hereon in. Large towers of corrugated rock began to erupt slowly from the ground. She marvelled at bulbous calcite beams and sandy stonework standing strong amongst the lush flora. White textured marble brought a warm, sweet vanilla smell. Nope, no more. Her focus fell on crystal beams dribbling from the ceiling. She watched light refract in each bead and thought back to the time she enjoyed evocative crystalline candy.
She crouched down to appreciate the view and reflected. Why did she try something she hadn't before? That was the only way, she thought. We could only truly live by trying things that scared us, yet potentially could be fantastic. She had to keep trying. There was no need to rush into it. She would definitely remember to read instructions in the future, should they come with it The light hit the formation in such a splendid way. The leaves rustled on their chunky stems, almost waving goodbye to her in the last area of this garden. Magic.
Photos taken at Cloud Forest in Singapore
A new day and a new garden to explore. This time, a host of beads sprawled from vases stacked at various heights. Silver flower beads sat in a mass upon glass. Powder pink hydrangeas had a tinge of lime at the edges; she loved their delicacy. She'd spent a fair amount of time in enchanted gardens and knew that this for sure, was one to sample. A candyflossy taste came through as soon as a mini floret touched her tongue, with a zesty note hitting right at the end. She immediately felt lighter and looked forward to more to try.
She remembered how the roses looked stunning in the height of summer. Autumn had come through and they had taken on a new lease of life. Some might think life wasn't involved anymore, yet she believed there was. They hung delicately; dry chrysalides of purple, cream and pink. The petals began to disintegrate into a flurry of small confetti pieces. It was the season where all would start to fall and she made her peace with that. It was time for change. She watched entranced as a tiny blizzard of crisp petals swirled on the table top.
She noticed how a subtle cocoa scent wafted in the air. An array of chocolate beads sprawled out of the vases. There were milky orbs, dark chocolate discs and mocha morsels. She leant over and lifted a strand. Bringing it closer to her nose, the delicious aroma grew stronger; her sweet tooth kicked into action. It was time to take a bite of a sugary pyramidal stick. It was as decadent and rich as she had imagined. Well, she may as well sample them all. Chunky dunes tumbled on her tongue landscape. The white choc spheres were her favourite.
As if she hadn't indulged in the saccharine enough, she was guided from the chocs to the sweets section. She unwrapped foils of small silver beads. Inside were rose-syrup imbibed drops. The hard outer edge melted away to leave a light floral taste. She thought the glass tabs would continue the sugary theme. Oh, was she wrong. The hard-boiled shapes brought some unexpected sourness, as though cherries had decided to rebel against the sweet feast. A reminder that the balance will always be restored, in some shape or form.
She ate one of the purple ones. It was like an amalgamation of various berries she'd had in her life; it had the fragrance of blueberries, the sweetness of strawberries and the sharpness of blackberries. She was about to have another, when the crisp lilac roses began shaking in their vase. They were trying to get her attention. As she brought her hand close, a buzzing petal fell and fused with the berry. The taste was off the chain. She imagined an ultraviolet ether seeping through her veins. A feeling of vitality coursed through her.
Standing starkly green and proud within the muted landscape was the jade plant. Stalks extended and curved over to touch creamy white roses. The leaves were resplendent with moisture and they transferred it into the dry petals. Pulsating anew, the roses were taken back to summers spent on strong stalks, drinking in the sunshine. That brief throwback was all they needed, as the life liquid coursed back into the crassula. Nostalgia is beautiful thing, yet the roses didn't want to forgot all the splendour that surrounded them right now.
There was a luxurious draping of pearls over the table, where she lifted a long length. The rose inside the lidded vessel set off another frisson as the pearls drew themselves towards it. Almost in a magnetic fashion, they attached themselves to the outside of the glass. She opened the lid and placed the pearls inside. Almost instantaneously, the beads began to melt down and combine. A beautiful floral fragrance filled the air. She lifted her head and relished in the scent of the mixture. Who wouldn't want to bottle it and keep it with them?
She put some purple berries, petals and pearls into her pocket for another time. They'd be there for her when she wanted evocative flowers to revive her. We all had those moments. Yet right now, she was optimistic. Swirling a floret between her fingers. she knew this was how she wanted to spend her time. She reflected on how her current life interlocked with the past. She knew she couldn't stay chained to certain moments any longer. Those links had to come apart and she was making peace with that. There were new bonds to form.
Stepping out into the wilderness felt like wandering onto a painter's palette. Nature served up shades of yellow first: thin pressed petals, hearty clusters and hazy blobs. The small eye-catching buds of achillea reminded her of lichen spreading across textured bark. When she saw such fascinating flowerheads, she always imagined herself being shrunk to a miniature scale. She would hop across each spongy pad with laughter; the bright landscape luring her in to explore further. She had a feeling she'd be leaving this place sated.
When she went very close to observe, the wind flapped a delicate poppy petal onto her lip. She moved her head back to find a subtle tingle where it had. She touched her lip to find a a lipstick-like smear on her fingertip. Retrieving her compact mirror from her pocket, she watched as her entire lips turned the same shade of red. It was unexpected, yet a pleasant surprise. She knew this wasn't a garden like any other and to leave room for enchantment. After all, how long would the spell last? It was time to appreciate magic while she could.
Borage hung like brushstrokes frenetically painted around poppies. Their fuzzy stems looked touchable, but she decided not to. She didn't know enough about this flower and a previous accidental brush with furry stalks turned out to be nettle; she definitely didn't want that sensation again. There were times when the foliage reached the sky. Above her, peachy petals fanned out like light sconces upon stalks. They radiated a peaceful energy and she really felt it when darkness began to descend. A fairy light glow to line her path.
A tiny pond. She placed her face underwater to see an abundance of spores open and close, open and close. Small sea anemone flexed their little floral buds. It was a constellation of creamy stars. She retrieved her head and gasped at the awe of it all. A huge leaf unravelled itself beside her. It had a towel-like texture and she got the impression it was there to dry her face. She was hesitant, yet she got the vibe that this fuzzy leaf wouldn't do her wrong. She brought the leaf closer and her face was cradled in its comforting warm surface.
The orangey-red florets of the crocosmia drew in insects from afar. The wasp relished in the nectar and sighed with happiness. After it had whizzed away, she ran her fingernail over the ascending petals. A symphony of notes played. She pinged a little one at the edge of the scale and flitted between each one. The sound changed in depth and she found herself ping some more to play a melody. The wasp found itself zoom back and hovered near the large, open flowerheads. It bopped in the air, appreciating the sweet sounds.
Down the path, a textured stalk was topped with a translucent white poppy. It fanned open by way of greeting her. She noticed the rich aubergine shade seeping into the white. Her index finger gently pressed the velvety surface. With that tiny touch, her finger nail coursed with colour to turn the same deep shade of purple. She gasped, glancing at this now-painted nail from all angles. She tentatively dabbed her other fingers onto the petal and found each one transform into matching dusky gradients. Instant manicure.
The starburst plant exploded as she walked past and she cupped her hand beneath it. The seeds began to dance in her palm. The stalks were still connected to the tiny black seeds and as they moved, she saw the transference of tiny smudgy trails on her skin. Ah, the perfect kohl. She retrieved her compact mirror again, lifted a stem and with a sweeping motion, lined her eyes with the rich black pigment. She also noticed her red poppy lip stain had disappeared. That must've happened when wiping her face with the absorbent leaf.
A slight gust blew and she saw the zinnias and dahlias release a soft powder. She went to tap each one and found dusty tendrils float into the air, catching the light. Her hands glistened in the sun from where the tiny iridescent specks had landed. There was no need to look any further for the perfect highlighter. She rested on her knees to tap the zinnia ball onto her collarbone. A bronze-tone shine came to dress her skin. The powder puff of a dahlia pressed a dewy pinkness onto the apples of her cheek. She felt ethereal.
Fluffy fleurs huddled together on a green carpet, spanning out across the field. These little pink flashes were statement pink lashes. Oh, it was time to get experimental with her look. She carefully prised a strand to find it peel off in a continuous strip. They had an almost magnetic pull towards her eyeliner. She audibly gasped when the lengths merged with her existing dark eyelashes. They took centre stage, long and luscious. She blinked to find this colour frame her view. Anyone would think she was turning into a flower fairy.
All this movement and energy around her was exciting. The citrus palm splayed its fronds, shimmying its leaves. Lilac globes swivelled on their stalks, resembling tiny worlds spinning on a finger. It was a frenzy of activity. This feeling seeped into her being. She inched towards the yellow poppy and picked a papery petal. A golden shimmer spread across her eyelid and then she swiped it across the other. The look was complete. She was happy to let the botanical hues last as long as they chose to. It was time to let the sunshine in.
Photos taken at the Cambridge Botanic garden
Before she knew it, the warmth of summer had rolled around again. She had missed it. She usually does, yet it's arrival this time felt particularly comforting. Her renewed sense of purpose was invigorating. Splashes of colour lay on a palette; the subtle melding of a rainbow. A vase looked like clay had been squished with a fist. Reaching magenta petals dotted the backdrop. Her eyes drank in the details. It had to be the vibrant dandelions which she spotted first. They shimmied on the table, with tinsel-like blooms picking up the sun rays.
The geranium leaves waved hello, with roots ready to sink into the wood. Nature had spray-painted them with a soft arch of dark green. She imagined how they would span and fan out larger, with trademark coral flowers coming through. Sprinkles of the earth were scattered around, ready to accommodate this growth. Next to them, a solitary leaf sat in a small vessel. It felt complete as an entity. How it stood proudly, regardless of who would notice it amongst the rest of the surrounding splendour. It was harmoniously in sync with all.
Lots of little empty vessels were poised as sculptural objects, excited to have nature drape from within. They wondered if it would be fruits, flowers or straight-up foliage. The pineapple bent its ear to hear what the dandelions had to say. They spoke of summer days and feeling light. Light-hearted and drifting, as the soft breeze would come to lift them. They would graciously accept this different form. Tiny, fluffy seeds would carry ideas into new soils to root. Even so, they were content to be in their splendid state of shine, right now.
She glanced from above, to appreciate all from a bird's eye view. From this angle, the pots looked like an abundance of eyes looking back at her, pupils diving deep into her thoughts. The geometric nature of the agavoid entranced her. It's symmetrical leaves were a plant dream-catcher, capturing anything that didn't enlighten her. The patterns were in harmony with that of the universe. She thought about her dreams and all around her that felt out of reach, yet in her minds eye, it was more than real. It was possible. It was happening.
She pondered on how the dandelion came to gain its name and how the leaves apparently resembled the teeth of a lion. Dent-de-lion. They really ought to have given some credit to the sunny sparklers atop the stem too. Her glance fell upon the blooms to their left and she smiled. Her much loved callas had come to say hello. They were welcome to do so at any time. The crassula ovata beamed, with sunset yellow lining the leaves. Left to sit in the sun longer, the brightness would become more prominent. She knew about that.
The glaucous leaves of the echeveria fanned out from the glossy blue vessel. Bright pink roses sang a melody to the chrysanthemums. It was a flower party and there was a lot to be said. Foliage felt like the mutual friends that knew everyone, flitting between the entire scene. Myriad succulents filled the terrarium on the table. The striped haworthia was definitely one of her favourites. Her eyes gazed along the miniature carpet of sempervivum within the wooden vessel. The blending of deep red and green buds was a delight to see.
The interactions between all pleased her. A friendliness hummed. She felt like talking to the roses. She'd heard from the the callas many a time and they directed her this way. She wanted a different perspective on life. They stood elegantly on their strong stems, welcoming and down to earth. They had a way of leaning into any conversation with grace. It was a soothing chat about nurturing velvet petals and unravelling vivid skies, so that they'd wrap around her. She was more than capable of bringing everything she wanted to the table.